Recently, there have been a number of news reports following the deaths of children in Chapra (Bihar) after they consumed the Mid-day meal provided by the government in their school. The news reports are related to children being taken ill, and near death’s door in Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Neyveli (Tamil Nadu) and many other places. Now there are also reports of young girls taken ill after consuming the IFA tablets provided to control anemia among adolescent girls.
As usual, new committees and commissions will be set up, politicians who are the “people’s representatives” will put the blame at each other’s door, bureaucrats will absolve themselves of all responsibility and lay it on the door of the lowest functionary. Meanwhile, hundreds and thousands of children will continue to be at risk, with criminal acts of omission and commission continuing without the criminals being brought to book and most importantly concrete action being taken to ensure that this never ever happens again.
Lok Raj Sangathan condemens these deaths and states unequivocally that this is yet another failure on the part of the Indian state and all its machinery.
The Mid-day meal (MDM) covers around 12 crore schools in this country, and uses public money of around 10,000 crore annually. It was started with the laudable intention of helping to increase school enrolment, reduce dropout rates, boost learning, fight malnutrition.
However, the fact is that over 75% of the schools where the MDM is cooked do not have proper storage, hygiene, sanitation, or infrastructure to ensure hygienic and health food to the children.
The governments, be it the state or central government, often lament that the budget is insufficient. Is India as a country all that poor?
Crores of rupees are siphoned off on a regular basis through scams, unaccounted wealth in Swiss banks, and today the front page states that “India has offered credit to Vietnam’s military to the tune of 100 million$!
We must demand: that our representatives be accoutnable for organising and running the public schemes effectively; that those who provide these services such as the AWW, the Cooks, the ASHAs are regularised and paid a decent living wage.